General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan enter into Year 3 at the helm of the San Francisco 49ers. With a slew of roster needs and some $65 million in salary cap space, the 49ers could be among the more active teams in free agency. In this series, we’ll be taking a look at impending free agents that could be on the team’s radar at the start of the league year on March 13.
The 49ers officially parted ways with receiver Pierre Garcon on Thursday. The veteran hits free agency after two disappointing seasons in San Francisco, both ending in injury after eight games. Garcon’s exit weakens an already struggling receiving corps. Former undrafted free agent Kendrick Bourne led the group in 2018 with just 42 receptions for 487 yards.
With starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo making his return from a torn ACL this offseason, it’s imperative the 49ers roll out a competitive group of wideouts capable of getting their franchise quarterback rolling again. Near the top of pass-catching options available in free agency is Los Angeles Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams.
Williams’ production in 2018 wasn’t eye-popping, reeling in 41 passes for 653 yards and five touchdowns. His numbers are understandable when you consider his place in the lineup over the last two seasons behind standouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The last time the 27-year-old wideout was thrust into a leading role in 2016, Williams accounted for 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Williams offers the 49ers an imposing presence that doesn’t exist among their current group of receivers. He possesses the size, speed and athleticism to excel in Shanahan’s offense both as a route-runner and deep threat. Over the course of his four-year career, Williams has averaged an impressive 16.3 yards per reception. The 49ers’ red zone struggles continued in 2018 and Williams could be the remedy.
Williams is likely to command a significant contract in free agency. Kansas City Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins signed a three-year, $48 million contract in March. Williams has been more productive over the past three seasons despite being third on the Chargers’ depth chart. It’s safe to assume that Williams will command similar value, with a yearly average somewhere in the neighborhood of $14 to $16 million per season over a longer contract.